“Is Your Manuscript Ready to Submit?” by Joan Y. Edwards
Is your manuscript a quality manuscript? Is it the best manuscript you can write with the skills and knowledge you have now?
Does your manuscript pass the quality control test below?
If your answer to these questions is “YES,” you have a quality manuscript. You have a manuscript that is the best you can do at this time. Your manuscript is ready to submit.
1. Does your writing show your distinctive voice?
Two articles that explain voice are:
Holly Lisle. “Ten Steps to Finding Your Writing Voice”
Stephen Peha. “Looking for Quality in Student Writing”
2. Did you choose the best person to narrate your story – First, Second, or Third Person.
3. Does it have an Unforgettable Character with a flaw and a goal he is willing jump off cliffs to get it. Tell what he wants to do, what he wants to happen. Which characters keep the main character from achieving his goal? Which characters help him? Write so that the reader feels the emotions that your characters feel. Let the readers know the contradictions that go through the character’s mind. Tell the experiences that cause your character great stress, worry, anxiety, anguish, and/or sadness? What gives your main character great happiness? Make your character have to change to reach his goal.
Thinking about the theme(s) of your story will help you determine the flaws of your protagonist. If you know what the character learns from his experiences, you fatal flaw is its opposite. In Liar Liar, the protagonist learns how to tell the truth. Lying was his fatal flaw. If the protagonist learns to be dependable, his flaw was that he was irresponsible. If the protagonist finally gets up enough nerve to stand up for himself, he gains courage. Fear or cowardice was his fatal flaw.
4. Does it have a complete, compelling Plot – Beginning, middle, and a satisfying ending filled with tension of inner and outer struggles on every page so that readers anticipate the good and bad consequences of a character’s choices.
- Ordinary Day
- Inciting incident with new goal to solve a really big problem
- First failure
- Second failure
- Third failure
- What’s it like on the new ordinary day
5. Does it take place in an appropriate setting?
Choose a unique setting that heightens the suspense of the plot and the problems of the main character. Where does this character have these problems? Why here? Why not somewhere else? Put your character with people, circumstances, and settings that make his flaw more noticeable in the beginning and his strengths quite evident at the end.
6. Does it have proper formatting, few pet words, correct spelling, grammar, punctuations, and sentence structure?
Would your high school teacher give your manuscript an A or B? Any grade lower than a B is not acceptable. It must be above average in this area to submit it.
- Did you repeat pet words or phrases numerous times within the manuscript with no purpose for emphasis, such as: just, real, very,what’s up, what do you know, and it’s a shame. Use your search and find tools in your word processing software to find words you know you usually repeat. Replace with a better word or delete it. Here are examples of words or phrases that might be repeated:
The box is very flat. The hills are very steep. Her veil is very long.
I just don’t know what I’m going to do…repeated on page 10, 13, 19, 21, 25, and 32.
What do you know?…repeated on page 6, 7, 8, 9, 15, and 17.
- Can you say the following words in all honesty?
“This is the best quality I can do with this manuscript with the knowledge and skills I have at the present time.”
If your answer is: YES, send it out for one more look by your critique group, writing partner, and/or 3 beta readers. Give them three main things on which to focus.
When you get the manuscript critiques back, you will see it with clearer eyes. Read it from the back to the front. Start in the middle. Any page you begin reading your manuscript should get a reader hooked on it. Make corrections. Then submit your manuscript.
If your answer is: NO. It’s imperative that you calmly look at your manuscript with a skillful eye. Change what needs revising and send it out for one more look by your critique group, writing partner, and/or 3 beta readers. Give them three main things on which to focus.
Here are hints to help you get your manuscript in quality condition:
- Go through 7 versions (revisions all the way through).
- Your critique group, writing partner, and beta readers critiqued this manuscript. They found and suggested ways to improve grammar and spelling, as well as ideas to improve the story, plot, characters, setting, continuity, and believability.
- If you get your manuscript to the quality/best you can do stage, then you are ready to start Week 1 of my Pub Subbers plan. Do all the Steps for Weeks 1, 2, and 3. They take you through submitting your manuscript.
- Week 1 Get proofing critique. Choose an editor, agent, or contest for your submission.
- Week 2 Follow the guidelines of the chosen editor, agent, or contest to write necessary documents: pitch, query letter, cover letter, proposal, resume, or bio.
- Week 3 Pub Sub Friday-submission time. Not ready. It’s okay. Submit it when you’re ready.
- Week 4 Write, Revise, Critique, Live, Educate, Motivate, Celebrate
8. Did you follow the guidelines?
Don’t sabotage your own success. Follow the guidelines. Following the directions for the guidelines is the final requirement for a quality manuscript. When you don’t follow the directions, it lowers your grade to a C or lower. If it says, email submissions only and you send it by U.S. postal service, the agent or editor may not even read it. It may seem heartless, however, your submission may end up in the trash can. The editor or agent may think if you can’t follow these simple directions, you won’t be able to follow suggestions to make your manuscript a top-notch best-selling book.
I hope these ideas help you keep going, even when you feel like giving up.
Good luck with the publication of your best quality manuscripts!
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Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards
Copyright © 2013 Joan Y. Edwards
Here are links to ten articles about a writer’s errors. Use them if you want a thorough, intense study of possible errors. If you know a problem that has shown up in your work, ask your critique group to help you find them. Number 6 link has hilarious errors in it for your enjoyment.
- Alfonso Coley. “Common Writing Problems New Writers Can Face:” http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/2421290/common_writing_problems_new_writers_pg2.html?cat=9/
- Amanda Patterson. “The Five Most Common Problems First Time Writers Share:” http://thewriteco.wordpress.com/2008/07/09/the-5-most-common-problems-first-time-writers-share/
- Dara Marks. The Writer’s Store. ”The Fatal Flaw, The Most Essential Element for Bringing Characters to Life:” http://www.writersstore.com/the-fatal-flaw-the-most-essential-element-for-bringing-characters-to-life/
- Dr. Jeffrey Kahn, Illinois State University.edu. “Common Mistakes of English Grammar, Mechanics, and Punctuation:”http://my.ilstu.edu/~jhkahn/writing.html
- E.H. Williams, Hamilton College.edu, Biology Department, “Common Writing Mistakes:” https://my.hamilton.edu/writing/writing-resources/common-writing-mistakes
- Gordon Silverstein, editor. University of Minnesota.edu. “Humorous Reminders of Common Writing Mistakes: Advice from generations of Teaching Fellows at Harvard University:” http://writing.umn.edu/tww/grammar/self_humorous.html
- Judy Rose. Writing English.wordpress.com. “Ten Common Writing Mistakes Your Spell Checker Won’t Find:” http://writingenglish.wordpress.com/2006/09/18/ten-common-writing-mistakes-your-spell-checker-won%E2%80%99t-find/
- Laura Spencer. Free Lance Folder.com. “20 Writing Mistakes That Make Any Freelancer Look Bad:” http://freelancefolder.com/20-writing-mistakes-that-make-any-freelancer-look-bad/
- Pat Holt. “Ten Mistakes Writers Don’t See (But Can Easily Fix When They Do):” http://www.holtuncensored.com/hu/the-ten-mistakes/
- Tom Walker. Get Paid to Write Online.com. “Ten Most Common Writing Mistakes:” http://www.getpaidtowriteonline.com/common-writing-mistakes/
Filed under: Marketing, Pitch, Writing | Tagged: beta readers, characters, critique group, critique partner, Is your manuscript ready to submit, pet words, plot, punctuation, quality control test, setting, submit, voice |